Sound is all very well and good, but it’s nothing without a good light show. Our Kickstarter this week is some innovative technology that takes audio in real-time and spits it out as a mesmerising light show, with reprogrammable open-source software.
What is Audiolux One?
Audiolux One is the product of four years of research and design by Myles de Bastion. His one-line elevator pitch? “Audiolux One is a plug-and-play stompbox that analyses audio in real-time and generates music visualisations for smart LED pixels.”
De Bastion is deaf, and was looking for a way to improve the experience of playing music with his hearing peers. “I began experimenting with lighting systems with sound-reactive modes, but most were complex, expensive and at best, just flashed random colours whenever there was a loud sound,” he explains. “So four years ago I sat down to design a system that could listen in real-time to music and convey detailed visual information about sound dynamics (loudness), frequency (tone).”
The result is Audiolux One. “It’s my dream to one day ‘see sound’ and Audiolux One is an important step in this direction,” de Bastion enthuses.
Why should I care?
This Kickstarter plainly won’t be for everyone, but it’s rare that a product emerges that’s both original and has the potential to be truly transformative. If you’re deaf, it certainly makes a lot more sense, and de Bastion and his team have designed the product so you could actually work backwards from the light patterns and establish the music being played. “I use Audiolux One to show me visual information about sound and music,” explains de Bastion. “I like to use visualisations that map dynamics and frequency to colours, such as softer, high pitches as blues and purples and louder, bass sounds as fiery reds and oranges. This correlates sounds with the actual frequency wavelengths of light.”
Beyond that, though, the technology can transform a musical stage show or art installation – as demonstrated by Esperanza Spalding during her performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
“It’s amazing to me that I constantly uncover new applications and possibilities for being able to ‘see sound’,” says de Bastion. “Incorporating lighting that provides a detailed visualisation of sound adds a whole new, engaging and immersive layer to live events and performing arts. It really captures your attention and immerses an audience. Incorporating multiple senses into any experience not only makes it more engaging but also more accessible to those such as the deaf and hard of hearing who rely on other senses.”
How much and when would I get it?
This kind of technology doesn’t come cheap. At the time of writing, the cheapest way of buying the Audiolux One is the Early Bird III, which costs $US269. For that you get the Audiolux One controller, a guide to DIY sound-reactive lights, and either an LED strip or pixel string. That’s a 25% saving on its eventual estimated retail price. If that deal is gone when you read this, the next cheapest is $329 (~£256) for the same bundle, which is 10% cheaper than RRP.
One LED strip or pixel string wouldn’t allow you to put on a show like Esperanza Spalding, of course, so I asked de Bastion how someone would get more. “We do plan on selling a wide variety of LED strips and strings when we launch our online store,” he replies. “We haven’t set prices yet, but they will be very competitive with similar LED products from online retailers on Amazon.”
The project has an estimated delivery date of December, so barring any unexpected bumps in the road, you should get it in 2017.
Is there anything else like Audiolux One out there?
Not really, as far as I can see. LEDs that react to sound do exist, but not with the level of sophistication promised by Audiolux One.
Essentially this is a new product that likely wouldn’t exist without crowdfunding. If you want to live in a world where something like this exists, back it.
How risky is backing Audiolux One?
As ever with crowdfunding, there is no such thing as a guaranteed product. The end result may not be what’s promised, might never see the light of day, or might disappoint in another way. Only pay what you can afford to lose.
At the moment, Audiolux One is around one-third funded with 24 days to go. With Kickstarter, the money only leaves your account if the project is funded. In Audiolux’s case, the project seems as low risk as you could hope for given it’s a product without anything to compare it to. That is to say that a prototype exists and works – it just needs a supply chain to mass-produce it.
“We don’t expect supply problems at the projected initial-run quantities,” the risks and challenges section of the Kickstarter page reads, “however when working with overseas suppliers, there may be delays associated with customs delivery, we have plans in place with our suppliers to help mitigate unnecessary shipping delays.”